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Resources: Productivity

Handle your IT

Who Should Handle Your IT?

In our evolving COVID-19 world, we’ve had to re-learn the way we act and think. What worked for our businesses in the past might no longer help us in the future. The pandemic caused a seismic shift for many small businesses. Those who learned to adapt to the changes thrived and survived. With COVID-19 not off the table yet, we’re now in a time where business owners need to be strong, flexible, and determined. That is why we will show you why you need a Managed Service Provider to handle your IT.

If we look back on the pre-pandemic world, we had it pretty good. Of course, life was never perfect, but we had it good compared to other times in the past – the world wars, the strife of the depression, and the hardship of the last housing crisis. At our fingertips, we had a smartphone containing answers to anything we wanted to know. Technology was our friend. 

Thriving and outsourcing 

The businesses that thrived in the pandemic, and came out of the other side, knew what they needed to do. They had a support system that made sure they knew what they needed to do to handle your IT needs. That support system? It’s your MSP. The Managed Services Provider who took care of things when they were on the shaky pandemic ground keeps businesses running.  

While every business owner would love to stand on their own two feet and be self-reliant, the truth is that the most successful enterprises do not. Instead, they outsource to experts so that they can work entirely on their business without having to worry about how to handle their or your IT. 

Relying on an MSP to handle your IT 

One of the main reasons why many companies outsource their IT support is for cost reduction. By outsourcing, you don’t need to worry about employing a person in-house. What’s more, unlike a single employee, an MSP is available all year round, 24 hours a day. They won’t take sick leave or go on vacation, for example. Imagine your sole IT employee is away in the Maldives when you have a cybersecurity issue! 

Another important reason why many companies prefer to rely on an MSP is due to the secure infrastructure. MSP data centers and IT infrastructure is more secure when compared to a standard IT system in a business. This extra layer of security means that network data is protected. Of course, business cybersecurity is something we can’t take lightly. 

Finally, using an MSP means your company can centralize all of its servers and applications within a managed data center. With centralized data, you can have storage, backup infrastructure, and virtual services as well. 

Do I need an MSP? 

Only you can answer that question. However, it’s probably a good idea if you’re a small business with many employees wearing more than one hat. One drawback is that small businesses often suffer from knowledge gaps concerning IT updates and developments. With an MSP, no employee will have to wear the “IT Wizz” hat – they can all concentrate on their roles. You’ll have complete peace of mind about your cybersecurity with IT experts on board. 

Small businesses often need more predictable budgets, too, and if this is the case, an MSP can help. Since the cost of IT changes frequently, it can be daunting for small businesses to even put a figure on their future IT expenses. In addition, budgeting for IT is not easy! One month you might not need anything at all, but the next, you might need to deal with a broken computer, a security issue, or need a crashed server. With an MSP, you can choose to pay a flat fee each month, which makes budgeting much more predictable. And because all of the systems are maintained, they last longer, which again reduces costs.  

Can you be self-reliant to handle your IT? 

Of course – and there’s nothing wrong with this if you know what you’re doing. If your company is in the IT industry itself, it might make sense to do everything in-house, for example. It’s up to every business owner to weigh the positive and negative aspects of overseeing your technology. As most owners soon discover, hiring an MSP to take care of the technology is often the most cost-worthy solution. If you’re interested in learning more about Managed Services, contact us today! 

Shifting Your Workplace – What have we learned so far?

In our latest series of blogs, we’ve talked about how the Covid-19 pandemic provided us with an ideal opportunity for shifting the workforce. Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned! 

Back to work supplies 

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we run our businesses. There have been some advances that perhaps wouldn’t have happened for decades without it, if at all. IT equipment and software is the first thing that springs to mind when we think of advancements in the workspace. Thanks to the need for remote working, we’ve now got a whole host of collaborative conference room technology to help us in this new working world. Conference room webcams, interactive whiteboards, and noise-canceling headsets are all things that have developed in the last year or so. For businesses returning to the office or a hybrid working scenario, these items are now necessities. 

It’s not just technology that employers are considering. Many employees have relished the chance to work from home in comfort, so many employers are now attempting to mimic the home environment with soft furnishings, plants, and refreshments. Also, relaxing the dress codes is a great way to shift the workforce back to the office. After all, it’s likely that employees have been just as productive in their sweats and t-shirts. 

Overcoming workplace distractions 

Our second blog in the series focused on avoiding distractions in the workplace. Whether an employee works remotely, in the office, or a mixture of the two, they will likely experience many distractions. There are ways employers can prevent workplace distractions, and it’s a great idea to look at working environments. Are they clutter-free, organized, and quiet? If not, employers have lots of ways they can make them so. Providing employees with noise-canceling headsets is a good idea for both the office worker and the remote worker.  

Distractions online can also be a problem. There are many programs now that block these popular sites during working hours. However, one vital step is to ensure that there is mutual trust and respect with colleagues. Never underestimate the power of a strong working relationship. 

Workplace culture reboot 

The post-Covid-19 return to the office provides the ideal opportunity for employers to shift their workforce towards a culture reboot. It’s a great time to introduce new concepts and practices and engrain them into the day-to-day life of the business. Our third blog post in the series looked at what employers might consider about their company culture and the importance of creating a positive workspace. Some ideas included having a healthy snack bar, incorporating daily team huddles, investing in team building, and empowering the staff. 

Final thoughts 

While there have been so many negatives over the past months, having something positive to focus on, like shifting your workforce culture, can do wonders for your business and employees alike. We hope you try to make things more positive for everyone.  

We hope these tips are helping you run your office more efficiently. And, as always, if there is ever anything you need help with, contact us, and let’s discuss some solutions. We’re here to help. 

Workplace Culture Reboot

Shifting Your Workforce: Workplace Culture Reboot in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era

With the many changes that have occurred since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent crisis, employers are facing crucial decisions on how to shift their workforce into a new workplace culture reboot. This is the ideal time for looking at what we’ve learned over the past year. It’s an opportunity to focus on inclusion and diversity, and to create a positive workspace.

Creating a positive workspace with a cultural reboot

When talking about an organization, we often think of the company ‘culture’ as the ways in which things are done. The culture embodies the company’s values, vision, habits and norms that drive workers’ behaviour during their daily tasks. Lots of work habits have shifted since the first quarter of 2020. Some companies have now made a great workplace culture reboot. As we all move towards a new definition of what constitutes a workplace – office and home – it’s the perfect opportunity to look at what employees need to get their jobs done.

Workplace culture reboot element considerations

When you make the decision to reset your company culture, there are many things you can consider:

Organizational purpose and strategy – re-confirm your company’s vision and mission post-Covid-19. Is there anything that needs to change? Do the behaviours and values pre-pandemic still serve their purpose or do they need adjusting?

Behaviours and values – what do you want your working environment to look like? How will you measure and define it? Is there anything that needs to be changed in this new environment and time?

Core systems and processes – with remote working, how have your processes and operations changed? Are there any systems or structures that can be improved to help embrace the differences between employees? How could your financial, operational and HR procedures be adjusted to meet your employees’ needs better? Is there a need for greater flexibility in working hours or places?

Recognition and motivation – Have you learned anything about the motivation and needs of your employees since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic? How can employees’ needs be dealt with by managers and supervisors to open a relationship built on trust? 

Employee input and engagement – how can your employees provide input into your company operations? Are there adequate ways they can give feedback? Recently, The Grossman Group ran a survey that found almost half of people who are working from home want to continue doing so after the pandemic. Not all people enjoy remote working, though, and many seek a flexible working arrangement. Being flexible can help employees be more engaged and committed in their work.

Cultural resilience – when deciding on a reboot, think about how much resilience you can build into the team. A more resilient team will be able to adapt easily whenever changes arise. According to a report by Gallup, to be resilient when the going gets tough, businesses need to make sure their employees have everything they need to work as best they can. It’s also vital to show them how their work is part of the bigger picture.

Simple ways of creating a positive workplace

As well as looking at the wider organizational structures and processes, there are some really simple ways of creating a positive workplace for a cultural reboot. Here are some ideas:

Have a healthy snack bar – Many people have suffered from their eating habits during the Covid-19 pandemic and are keen to get back on track. Having a healthy snack bar will not only be appreciated by colleagues but will mean they are ready to tackle their work with adequate nutrition behind them.

Team huddles – having a short morning meeting that is no longer than 15 minutes is a great way of starting the day. It’s simple and repetitive and gets people motivated and on task ready to start their day.

Team building – when your teams have a great relationship, everything else will fall into place. Consider investing in team-building sessions to ensure there are positive working relationships with team members of all levels. When you get on with people and respect them, you’re more likely to work harder!

Staff empowerment – employees will work better with less micromanagement. Hand tasks and responsibilities over and see how they turn out! Another way to empower staff is to give them the opportunity to contribute. Creating an open forum for suggestions is a great way of ensuring employees feel heard. 

Use lunch & learns – these are perfect opportunities for voluntary, informal conversations and learning opportunities amongst employees. They bring people together in a casual, low-stakes way.

Company-wide games – don’t forget to have fun! Create a positive workplace by having regularly scheduled company-wide games or quizzes.

Whatever the reasons behind your cultural reboot, the post-Covid-19 pandemic return to work is the ideal opportunity to embrace new practices. If you have any questions about getting a workplace culture reboot, contact us today. We are here to help. 

preventing workplace distractions

Shifting Your Workforce: Preventing Workplace Distractions

It’s fair to say that everyone gets a little distracted at work from time to time. Even with intentions not to procrastinate, it can be a real challenge to stay on task. It can seem almost impossible to avoid distractions. According to statistics, workplace distractions account for a sizeable loss in productivity. Typically, a manager has an interruption every 8 minutes. Also, employees will spend around 28% of their working time dealing with unnecessary interruptions. So, how can we work towards preventing workplace distractions? Let’s take a look at some strategies to reclaim focus. We’ll also look into the different distractions that can be problematic for remote workers and those in the office environment.

How to be distraction-free from your workplace

Having good habits and sticking to them is one strategy for eliminating distractions. Start by focusing on your working environment. Encourage employees working from home to organize their home office so that there are few temptations to get stuck on something other than work. This task isn’t easy, however. Given that most people rely on computers for work, it is easy to be distracted by non-work-related sites. It might be wise to consider using an app that blocks certain websites during working hours. 

For employees in shared offices or shared home working spaces, closing doors or using noise-canceling headsets can be helpful. Another idea is to put your phone somewhere out of reach and put it on silent mode. For those employees in open offices, it might be a good idea to try and move to somewhere quieter. Some studies show that workers in open offices report more distractions than those working in more isolated areas. 

Averting workplace distractions for remote workers

Given the rise in remote working, many people who managed to work in an office environment without distractions have found themselves with distractions they have never encountered before. 

For employees who shifted to work from home during the pandemic, many were distracted by their children. Some workers had to be full-time or part-time childcare at the same time as holding down their job. Thankfully, childcare has resumed, so remote workers are more ‘alone’ when working remotely. This fix doesn’t, however, mean that distractions have vanished. 

Many people working from home have partners who look after young children, so the distractions or potential for distractions remain. Other distractions include realizing some jobs need doing around the house, like laundry or cooking, pets, partners popping in for a quick chat, unexpected visitors, and parcel deliveries. 

One solution to preventing workplace distractions is making it clear to others at home that disruptions aren’t welcome. A simple ‘do not disturb’ sign might do the trick when paired with a noise-canceling headset. 

Preventing workplace distractions from your office work

After reading the above section about remote working, it might be easy to think that remote workers are more distracted than office workers. This idea isn’t the case, however. According to Airtasker, remote employees are more productive than office employees and are less distracted. So, what is distracting our office workers? 

More often than not, it is other employees that cause distractions for office workers. Co-workers who come over for quick chats, phone calls, Microsoft Teams messaging, Google Workspace, or even emails will all slow down employees. Other non-work-related distractions include switching over to check social media, time management, and even chatting in the breakroom. 

Some solutions that help to prevent these include:

Ensure employees are aware of workplace etiquette when it comes to talking to colleagues. Be sure they know your thoughts on how much chatting is allowed about non-work-related topics. 

Have communication policies in place with regards to emails and reply turnaround time. 

Consider using software to block certain websites that might cause distractions (like social media) 

Have a telephone policy in place so everyone knows your expectations when using personal phones at their desks. 

Teach your employees how to organize and mute notifications in Teams, M365, etc. 

Hold regular, but not too many, team meetings and discuss distractions and how to overcome them. It’s possible that there are communication issues that will never be resolved unless they’re brought to your attention.

Final thoughts on preventing workplace distractions 

While you cannot prevent distractions altogether, there are things you can do to help your employees stay on task. Don’t underestimate the importance of having an open working relationship built on mutual trust and respect. Many employees work their best when they’re trusted to complete their work without micromanagement. In a trusted environment, they might find themselves more focused on their work as a result. If you have any questions about shifting your current workplace, contact us today. We are here to help. 

Natural Disasters and Data Recovery Plans

We don’t want to think about possible negative situations when it comes to our lives or our businesses. Planning for disasters means that we’re able to quickly recover from their consequences. In our previous blogs on data disaster recovery, we’ve covered how to plan for disasters and what types of disasters to consider when writing a data recovery plan. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the main points as a refresher. 

The key elements of data recovery plans 

A good disaster recovery plan will have assigned roles and responsibilities to different team members in advance. Planning ahead should ensure there is no time wasted when a disaster occurs. Having clearly defined roles means that team members can get on with their tasks quickly to mitigate the effects of a disaster.  

Another important point is the identification of which assets are critical to operating the business. In a disaster, you need to know which things to protect and sort out first to enable business operations to continue. If someone spends too much time dealing with a puddle on the floor instead of dealing with customer calls, for example, your business could be in turmoil.  

Backing up data is a must for every business. You’re on a dangerous path if you don’t have a plan in place for regular data backups. After all, you can’t recover your data after a disaster if you haven’t backed it up. Businesses must also consider whether they need to back up their IT infrastructure using a ‘cold site’ (a basic version of their infrastructure off-premises) or a ‘hot site’ (up-to-date data backups). As you can guess, the more data you back up, the better off you’ll be. 

Types of disasters to plan for 

It’s difficult to plan for any eventuality; however, there are certain things that all businesses should consider.  

Disasters can include technological disasters like: 

Data breaches 

Hacking  

Ransomware 

Or natural disasters like: 

Earthquakes 

Tsunamis 

Volcanoes 

Flooding 

Tornados 

Pandemics 

The impacts of any of these disasters are huge. Essentially, they can result in a business completely folding. Depending on the type of disaster, there could be all sorts of consequences. For example, the loss of supply chains, loss of assets and buildings, loss of life or personnel, and the loss of data. Since these consequences can be disastrous, it’s important for all businesses, regardless of size, to have contingency plans for disasters. 

Planning for disasters 

Businesses need to have contingency plans for dealing with disasters of every possible type. Different companies will, of course, have different needs.  However, some things are necessary for all businesses to include in their data recovery strategy plan. These include data, insurance, finances, resources, personnel, technology, compliance requirements, and the supply chain. 

Types of disaster data recovery 

There are a variety of options when it comes to data recovery. Perhaps the simplest method is backup. Your data is stored on or off-premises, or both for extra safety. However, relying solely on data backup gives minimal protection for businesses. If there is no backup of the IT infrastructure as well, there could be even bigger issues.  

An effective data recovery plan needs strategies and procedures for backups. You should know who will perform the backups and how often they will be done. Those responsible for data backups must also work out the business’s recovery time. Calculate the amount of time the organization can be ‘down’ after a disaster and work from there. 

The data recovery strategy should be tested and updated continually to protect the business from new threats. In this way, the business will be able to navigate challenges successfully. Planning a response to a cyberattack ahead of time will make sure your team will know what to do. 

Final thoughts 

Whatever your business and size, the ultimate aim is to ensure you’re well protected and have plans in place for any type of disaster. If you’re struggling to finalize your plans or even start writing one, get in touch with us for a free consultation.